Dustin Curtis


Page 7

GM pulls ads from Facebook

Joann Muller, at Forbes:

Just days before Facebook’s historic stock offering, General Motors said it plans to stop advertising on the social media site, concluding that its paid ads don’t have a big impact on consumers. […]

The news comes at an awkward time for Facebook, whose $105 billion IPO is scheduled for Friday.

“Awkward?” No. For someone, strategic. (Or, maybe, vengeant).

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Steve Ballmer’s Microsoft

May 15, 2012. You can call Steve Ballmer many things, but you cannot call him the “the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today,” as Forbes’ Adam Hartung did in a recent article. It’s easy to see Microsoft as a bumbling fool of the tech world, but when you look closely at its business, the company’s core competencies, and Ballmer’s decisions, a coherent picture begins to form. It’s a picture of a company being run from a very rational and respectable set of philosophies.

While Microsoft is no disruptive force in tech today, the truth is that it has never been. The company’s core competency is a process it uses for entering and consuming existing industries. After it enters a market, it rides off the innovations of its competitors, uses its existing brand power and sheer size to tackle a large surface area at the bottom of the market, and then, finally, it develops a

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Quora’s $50 million

The question and answer site Quora just announced that it recently closed a $50 million series B financing which valued the company at $400 million. Usually, the purpose of a large funding round like this is clear; Square, for example, raised a bundle of cash because they’re attempting to accelerate growth with expensive marketing and by giving away hardware dongles. With Quora, the purpose is less clear. There are only so many things you can do with raw cash to accelerate the growth of a question and answer community. So why would they raise so much? How could they raise so much?

Shayndi Raice, at The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Heiliger said one of the key reasons he invested in Quora is because of his friendship with Mr. D'Angelo and Mr. Cheever when they worked together at Facebook several years ago.

“I know Adam and Charlie and think highly of both of those guys,” Mr. Heiliger said

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Why HBO’s president panned internet streaming

In an article published a couple of days ago, Forbes writer Erik Kain suggested that HBO’s president, Eric Kessler, called internet streaming distribution a “temporary phenomenon,” and then he blamed HBO’s supposed incompetence for causing the extremely high rates of piracy for its original content. It was a very misleading and shallow article.

Who would believe that the president of HBO is so dense that he would make such an absurd comment? It’s so unbelievable that I went to the primary source, a 40 minute video interview with Mr. Kessler, which draws a fascinating picture of HBO’s business strategy. After listening to the entire interview twice, I could not pinpoint where Kessler actually said “temporary phenomenon.” He hinted at the opposite, in fact, and then he articulately rationalized HBO’s position from a business perspective. (He did mention that the depressed economy was

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Facebook’s App Platform

One of Facebook’s biggest strengths is its web platform, but with the evolution of hardware-tied mobile app stores, that platform is slowly (very, very slowly) becoming irrelevant. Today, Facebook announced its App Center, presumably to compete more directly with the Play Market and the App Store. Aaron Brady, on the Facebook developers blog:

Today, we’re announcing the App Center, a new place for people to find social apps. The App Center gives developers an additional way to grow their apps and creates opportunities for more types of apps to be successful.

In the coming weeks, people will be able to access the App Center on the web and in the iOS and Android Facebook apps. All canvas, mobile and web apps that follow the guidelines can be listed. All developers should start preparing today to make sure their app is included for the launch.

This strategy has the potential to be very

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Github’s Octicons

Cameron McEfee wrote a great case study on Github’s process for building Octicons, their new icon font, on the Github blog:

Design is in the details. With all our icons designed, it was time for us to create our font. We decided we needed two sizes of each icon. One size, 16px, would be optimized for its exact size. At 16px the details are limited so every pixel was important. Since the icons were designed for such a small space, they don’t really scale well. To take care of that our second size, 32px, would be designed with more detail so that it could be scaled up for many purposes.

This is a great case study showing the tradeoffs Github made in order to optimize automatic antialiasing when pixel-fitting their new icon font. Unfortunately, because browser font rendering systems are optimized for typography and not icons, using that system to display icons doesn’t work very well (or

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In the Markdown Mark repository on Github, I had initially included only 12 static PNG images of the mark at different specific sizes. Several people asked me why I had done this instead of including a vector graphic, and the reason is actually extremely important. This is something everyone should know, especially people who are not designers.

Most icons and logos are stored in vector image files that specify perfect mathematical representations of their shapes. Unlike JPG and PNG images, vector graphic files don’t tell the computer how to display their contents in pixels; for a vector graphic to be displayed, the computer has to perform a translation from the mathematical vectors into something that can be displayed with pixels.

This translation process is relatively simple: the computer takes vector lines, lays them on top of a pixel canvas, and then fills in each pixel that the

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iMessage keeps AT&T CEO awake at night

Brian X. Chen on Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s CEO, at The New York Times:

Mr. Stephenson said he worried about services that could replace the company’s own offerings. For example, free Internet-based messaging services like Apple’s iMessage are eating into the company’s revenue from text messages.

“You lie awake at night worrying about what is that which will disrupt your business model,” he said. “Apple iMessage is a classic example. If you’re using iMessage, you’re not using one of our messaging services, right? That’s disruptive to our messaging revenue stream.”

The future of wireless networks is very clear: they will be used for everything. AT&T Mobility and Verizon will very soon be providing your sole connections to the rest of the world, including your home internet, mobile internet, voice communications, television, and ambient devices. They are slowly transforming from phone

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Arianna Huffington vs. AOL

Keach Hagey, at The Wall Street Journal:

Arianna Huffington acknowledged Thursday that her portfolio at AOL Inc. is being scaled back to include only the Huffington Post, undoing a structure put in place when her website was acquired by AOL last year.

After buying the Huffington Post for $315 million, AOL gave Ms. Huffington editorial oversight of all its properties, including tech-news site TechCrunch, the patch.com network of local news sites, MovieFone and MapQuest.

First, Engadget’s editor left. Then, some of Engadget’s writers left. After some incredibly damaging–and very public–fighting, Michael Arrington was fired. Yes, the most powerful man in tech journalism was fired from a company that is trying to become the future of journalism. In the months that have followed, practically the entire TechCrunch team has left.

People don’t get in the lifeboats unless they think the ship

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Facebook’s numbers

I like to look at raw numbers every once in a while, without external influence, to recalibrate my ability to judge the magnitude of things. Here are some of the numbers from Facebook’s most recent S-1 filing (published on May 3rd) which I think are important as metrics to compare against when thinking about relative success and opportunity. (Sources are at the bottom.)

 Total users and engagement

125,000 M Friendships
2,000 M Likes per day
1,000 M Comments posted per day
901 M Monthly active users
526 M Daily Active users
488 M Monthly active mobile users
302 M Photos uploaded each day

 User penetration

85% Chile, Turkey, and Venezuela
60% India, the United Kingdom and the United States
30%-40% Brazil and Germany
20% Japan, Russia, and South Korea
0% China

 Daily active users

526 M Worldwide total
152 M Europe
129 M US & Canada
126 M Rest of the world
119 M Asia

 Monthly active

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